Photos courtesy of Lara James
CONWAY — The Bryant Athletic Association’s Blue League 11-year old tournament team competed[more] in a tournament in Conway over the weekend, going 1-2 with losses only to the eventual champion. The team opened with a 5-3 win over the Mudcats then ran into the Blaze, absorbing a 7-3 loss to become a five seed for bracket play. That set up a rematch with the Blaze on Sunday, resulting in the second loss, 8-2.
The team, coached by Bryan Hall, includes Austin Cook, Jayden Foster, Jonathan Hall, Rhett James, Tyler Jordan, Braydan Lester, Josh Prather, Hunter Stallman, Braxton St. Claire and Austin Trimble.
Bryant 5, Mudcats 3
Bryant rallied from a 3-2 deficit to score three runs in the top of the fourth then Lester worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning to close out the win.
The Mudcats scored twice in the first but Bryant tied it in the top of the second after Jordan and Prather singled then advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Cook picked up an RBI with a grounder to first. Stallman walked to stole second before another wild pitch allowed Prather to score.
But the Mudcats used a walk, a pair of stolen bases and a two-out double to regain the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the second.
Neither team scratched in the third; Bryant despite the fact that Foster belted a two-out triple.
In the top of the fourth, Jordan led off with a base hit and was awarded second on a balk. With one out, Trimble singled him in to tie the game. Trimble would advance to second on a passed ball and third on a base hit by Cook. Stallman was hit by a pitch to load the bases but they were still loaded with two out.
That’s when James came up and bounced one to third that was misplayed allowing Trimble to score, putting Bryant ahead. And when Lester singled, Cook scored to make it 5-3.
But the drama was not over yet. The Mudcats got their lead-off man on base via and error. A balk allowed the runner to take second but when the next batter hit the ball towards shortstop, the lead runner was ruled out for runner’s interference.
Lester fanned the next batter and got within a strike of ending the game there but a pair of walks resulted in a bases-loaded situation with the Mudcats’ lead-off batter coming to the plate. On the first pitch, however, he tapped back to the mound and Lester threw to first to end the game.
Blaze 5, Bryant 3
A three-run third put the Blaze in the lead for good, snapping a 2-2 tie. Bryant countered with a run in the bottom of the third but was shut out over the last two innings. The Blaze added a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to pad the advantage.
With a run in the first and another in the second, the Blaze held a 2-0 lead. In the home second, however, Bryant pulled even. Hall walked and took second on an errant pickoff throw. He advanced to third on Trimble’s groundout then scored on a double by Jordan, who took third on the throw then scored on Prather’s groundout.
The Blaze used a walk, a single and an error to post their three runs in the top of the third. Bryant bounced back in the bottom of the inning when St. Claire draw a one-out walk, advanced to second on a balk, to third on a passed ball and scored on yet another balk as Lester was drawing a walk.
Bryant put two on in the fourth when Jordan walked and Prather rapped a two-out single but both were stranded. In the fifth, James beat out an infield hit with two down but got no further than first before the Blaze closed out the win.